This workstream involves collaboration with PlayWest and other gaming specialists to develop platforms that can engage non-specialists in thinking about water, water scarcity and water security.
This project has its origins in discussions IWSN Director Chad Staddon had with water sector colleagues in 2009 and 2010 about the need for better ways of visualising sustainable water. Whilst there are all manner of technical tools for analysing and representing water supply, demand, balances, etc., there seems to be a need for a tool for the lay-person; a tool that would allow non-specialists to see the relations between certain kinds of (urban) development and water balance or imbalance outcomes.
Initial outputs explored some of the challenges of visualising complex datasets in a variety of contexts, including a Master-planning exercise in Durban, South Africa and a water app for UK water customers. These projects looked at challenges of 2D and 3D visualisation in different hardware/software environments.
On World Water Day (22 March) 2016, we unveiled a stand-alone water game entitled Pipeline Express, designed to get players to consider the challenges of hooking up water services to complex and fast growing cities. Initial play experience led to design modifications and the game is scheduled for launch in Autumn 2016.
In addition to optimising the current Pipeline Express build for launch, we are also planning modifications that can improve what the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow”, that is “the feeling of complete and energized focus in an activity, with a high level of enjoyment and fulfilment.”